I got a pretty good reaction to my post about DropBox so I thought I’d share my latest experiment with synchronisation software. Microsoft have released a new version of their Live Mesh software, I had a developer licence for this several months ago but never really had chance to use it in anger. I’ve just downloaded the latest build and I must say it has definitely improved.

Live Mesh has taken a really good approach to cloud storage, they have implemented a web interface that mimics the environment you would find on your Vista desktop. Sure this makes the site a little heavier but makes for a far more familiar experience, which is crucial when sharing files with less technically inclined friends and family. Sharing is one thing that is handled very nicely by Live Mesh including proper file permissioning. One thing I did notice during the course of this reveiw is that Live Mesh has implemented one of the things I cried out for in my review of DropBox and that is the ability to select which files and folders are synchronised to each computer the software is installed on.

One problem I did come across while using Live Mesh on my desktop was with UltraMon. If you haven’t come across UltraMon before and you have a multiple-monitor setup go now and get it by far its the best £30 you can spend. UltraMon’s SmartTask bar spreads across all your screens showing which windows are open on which screen. I rely on this application so much, so when I turned on my machine this morning and could not get it to work I was rather frustrated. After some rummaging I came across the ignore monitor functionality, Live Mesh had added another monitor for remote desktop as display two horribly confusing UltraMon. If you ignore this remote desktop for the purposes of UltraMon you get your taskbar back. A little frustrating but easily remedied.

Regardless of this, the main reason I reinstalled Live Mesh was to see how it behaved with my phone, being able to retrieve my files on the go is incredibly convenient. I was impressed just how smoothly this worked,  just navigate to the Live Mesh website, log-in and traverse your files and download direct to your mobile device. For comparison I also tried this with DropBox, first impressions are good, any files that are in your root directory are easily accessible and download quickly. Unfortunately the Dropbox page doesn’t seem to handle navigating to sub-folders. From what I can gleam from the page source this looks to be because of some JavaScript that is used to display the folder tree interface on a conventional browser. Its unfortunate that this is preventing full use of this service from mobile devices. There seems to be a lot of demand on the DropBox forum for a mobile version fo the page or even the predictable IPhone app so hopefully we’ll see these in the near future.

Both of these tools make it much easier to share your files across devices and access this information on the go. Sure there are glitches and the odd bug or two but overall they are both incredibly impressive and I highly recommend experimenting with both to find which you prefer if you even infrequently need access files remotely. My opinion so far is that DropBox is a better solution for the large majority of people who just want to put files into a folder and go. It will be interesting to see what direction the Live Mesh team take their product as the Live Desktop is crying out to be used as more than a glorified file browser.